Japanese PM mulling visit to India

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Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is exploring the possibility of visiting India in November as a counterbalance to growing Chinese power in the region, a press report said Wednesday. Noda will try to build a close relationship with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as other senior government officials and business leaders in India, Kyodo news agency said, quoting government sources.
The foreign ministry’s press office denied the report saying: “There is no such fact.”
It would be the first visit to India by a Japanese premier since 2009. A free trade agreement between Japan and India came into force in August. Kyodo said Noda is expected to discuss with Singh China’s growing international influence. “Japan’s economic growth is impossible without working closely with India,” one of the sources was quoted as saying. “It is necessary to strengthen ties with the country also in the context of holding the rise of China in check.”
Noda, a former finance minister who replaced hugely unpopular Naoto Kan as prime minister on September 2, is scheduled to make his diplomatic debut when he attends the annual United Nations general assembly in New York next week. He is expected to hold separate talks with US President Barack Obama and other world leaders on the sidelines of UN events. Noda has also publicly expressed his wish to visit China at a convenient time for both sides. Japanese media said he might make his China trip in October.